Funded by voters in 2006, construction continues around Issaquah School District

April 3, 2012

By Tom Corrigan

Even as voters begin to mull a $219 capital bond package that will be on a special April ballot, work funded by a 2006 voter-approved bond continues around the Issaquah School District.

Some of the bigger ongoing projects include work at Maywood Middle, Briarwood Elementary and Liberty High schools.

Maywood Middle School

Administration officials freely admit the $20.6 million rebuilding and expansion project at Maywood has run into problems. Most recently, delays in furniture and equipment deliveries forced delays in plans to have administrators move back into a heavily revamped office and entrance space.

As of Feb. 14, the furniture was to have arrived about three weeks prior, said Steve Crawford, district capital projects director. Principal Jason Morse seemed to be taking any delays in stride.

“We are just waiting for the excitement of moving into our new offices,” he said.

Administrators had been making do in portable modules, but were open for business in their revamped offices March 19.

Another delay was in an outside courtyard. Utility lines beneath the courtyard needed numerous corrective steps, including redesigning the drainage system.

Yet a third problem appeared in the rebuilding of what will eventually serve as an auxiliary gym. Walls were hung with a covering called bang board, Crawford said, a material that won’t get scuffed by bouncing balls. A contractor sanded it down, removing the clear, protective covering. The material had to be replaced. Crawford also noted one basketball court free throw line is one foot closer to the basket than regulation.

During a recent meeting of the school board, members expressed some concern that construction on an addition to Maywood was falling behind. That addition is to be home to four new classrooms and two science labs.

“We have a pretty good level of confidence we’re going to get these spaces done,” Crawford said. Contractors and school officials have been meeting regularly.

“We’re going to push them,” Crawford said. He later said work on the addition is on budget and slated to reach substantial completion in July.

Crawford said delays and other problems have not added to the cost of the project.

Among other improvements, the building’s new design moved administrative offices to a more central and up-front position, allowing officials a better opportunity to watch comings and goings. The changes also allowed expansion of the library. A faculty lounge was also expanded and is more centrally located, Morse said.

Elsewhere, a performance stage was widened and already is in use for a school musical. Another new feature includes covered walkways to connect different areas of the school. Maywood is the largest middle school in the district with roughly 900 students, Morse added.

Briarwood Elementary School

Over several years, the district purchased property next to the existing Briarwood Elementary. A new Briarwood campus is now being built on that land and on part of a former playfield. The construction is on time and on budget, Crawford said.

Crawford said the new Briarwood will look like Creekside Elementary. That school was built in 2010 and except for some exterior modifications, the new Briarwood will be very similar. Substantial completion of the new school is expected in June. The new Briarwood will open in time for the next school year.

Demolition of the current Briarwood will happen shortly after school lets out in June, Crawford said. Teachers and staff members will be given three days to remove classroom items from the school before an excavator and bulldozer take down the building. Cost of the total Briarwood project is given as $25.1 million. The work will accommodate anticipated student population growth in the south end.

Liberty High School

Phase I of the Liberty project included moving utilities and other preliminary work to make way for the high school’s new performing arts center, Crawford said. The facility will be very similar to the still new arts center at Issaquah High School, though Crawford said there would be differences.

“It will have the same capabilities,” he added.

The facility will include a block box theater. The $19 million project is expected to be finished this summer. Phase II work at Liberty could include a new commons space, modernization of certain classrooms, a rebuilt library and an auxiliary gym. Completion depends on passage of the April bond. Total cost of Phase II at Liberty is estimated at $44.5 million, including $4.8 million in sports stadium improvements.

Change orders

Various change orders have been passed by the school board in connection with the construction projects. Three change orders totaling roughly $543,000 were recently adopted by the school board on the Briarwood project. Passed at an earlier board meeting, another change order involved a $374,070 adjustment on finishing touches being put on the rebuilding of IHS. There are two primary reasons for change orders, according to Crawford.

The first was described as the unforeseen conditions that occur in any major construction project. The tunnels underneath the Maywood courtyard are a good example, he said.

“We know in any big project you’re going to run into things that you don’t expect,” he added.

Change orders also occur when there is an alteration in original plans requested by either the contractor or the schools.

“We track all those things very closely,” Crawford stated.

Change order costs are covered with contingency funds built into large-scale work, he added.

In case of both the Briarwood and the IHS work, the change order was passed by the board under its consent agenda. The consent agenda is meant to be reserved for routine items that officials feel will require little if any discussion.

Alterations listed on that January change order included items such as new security cameras added at the request of the schools. City inspections resulted in a couple of change orders, such as adjusting a railing on a supply dock as required by Issaquah codes. Board materials did not list the individual price of the items.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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